TapMind Your Language

My teachers would have been the first to say that language was not my strong point. In fact, I have the unenviable distinction of having reached the end of formal education without a single language qualification to my name. But as a scientist, it bugs me when people use incorrect words because it conveys incorrect meaning and thus makes the communication pointless or even dangerous.
In the news this morning there were two prize examples. A chief constable from somewhere said that emergency calls this Halloween had been down by a third from the previous year. It a subsequent sentence it was clear that he meant down TO a third. Perhaps this is a mathematical inaccuracy but I think it was more likely to be careless use of words.
The second was an interview with someone responsible for the WHO report on depleted uranium weapons where he said that a contrary research paper was not included because it was not collaborated by other research. Now at best this is meaningless but at worst it implies that he was expecting there to be collusion between independent research projects. Of course what he meant was that the paper was not CORROBORATED by other research; Mrs. Malaprop would have been proud.
In both cases it was the interviewees that made the error under stressful conditions but I would have expected the interviewers to have picked it up and asked for clarification.
Another one that frequently bugs me is the apparent interchangeability of “site” and “sight” in emails but here I blame the reliance on spell-checkers and an inability of most people (including myself) of being able to proof-read their own writing. Having read this, if any of you want to turn the finger back on me for the poor spelling, use of language or proof-reading on this web site then I welcome it—you will be doing a service to other readers; but please point out the necessary corrections in detail else I will never be able to find them.

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